Rules of Skateboarding #12: Aaron 'Jaws' Homoki

Illustration by  Cosme

Illustration by Cosme

It’s no secret that having a shoe sponsor is a pretty big deal in skateboarding. So what happens when an established pro, known for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on a skateboard, can’t seem to get one? Ian Browning talked to Aaron ‘Jaws‘ Homoki about his footwear sponsor situation.

Do you buy your own shoes right now?

I have bought a couple pairs. I bought some Emericas a couple times, so yeah. 

When was the last time you had a shoe sponsor

It’s been since Dekline...five years or so? Dekline went out of business and that was the last shoe sponsor I had.

After they went under did you have any other offers?

Not right away. I kind of just started wearing some Nikes because (Mike) Sinclair was giving them to me. I mean, free shoes. I was just wearing those, and then...nothing. I had someone talk to some people (at Nike) for me, and no one there was down, so, I was just like, ‘Fuck it.’.

Which was a bigger deal to you: getting a pro board or getting a pro shoe?

Honestly, a pro board. That’s what I always dreamed of as a little kid, to see your name on a skateboard, you know? That’s more of a nostalgic moment for me.

Roof jumping in some store bought Emericas.

Roof jumping in some store bought Emericas.

Which one came with a bigger paycheck?

The shoe, definitely. I miss that about a shoe sponsor. That paycheck was nice.

Shoe sponsors are usually the biggest paychecks for pros these days. Have you felt the pressure to take on other sponsors—energy drinks or whatever—or getting a side job to make up the difference?

Definitely getting other sponsors. I’m reaching out and just trying to get new things to make up for that lost money. I’m about to turn 30, and I’ve got to save as much money as I can before this train ends.

Nice Dekline paycheck, nice Dekline kickflip stalefish.

Nice Dekline paycheck, nice Dekline kickflip stalefish.

Do you feel like you have to work harder to get coverage because you don’t have a shoe sponsor sending you on trips or putting you in ads and videos?

Yeah, going on trips is awesome, but not necessarily. I think with social media, you can just get yourself out there, so it’s not like you’re not waiting for them to put your stuff out.

HUF recently announced that they were the latest skate shoe company to throw in the towel. Do you think as we see more companies bow out, with big shoe companies consolidating the skaters left onto their teams, that we’ll see more skaters that end up without a shoe paycheck?

Yeah, I think that’s probably going to happen. I also think that with the Olympics coming that bigger shoe companies will come into the game, like Reebok or Sketchers or other huge companies, and maybe there will be homes for people there. 

I’m not sure, I didn’t even know that HUF threw in the towel until you told me. That’s a bummer. It sucks too, because Emerica is one of my favorite brands ever, and it’d suck if they were gone.

A Nike assisted 540

A Nike assisted 540

It does seem like a lot of the little guys are struggling to hold on right now.

From what I hear, everybody is struggling unless you’re one of the big ones. Even with T. Hawk, he didn’t have a shoe sponsor for so long, and he finally just got on Lakai because Riley is on.

That seemed more of a homie thing than anything.

Yeah, it’s like ‘Duh, we’re going to put the Birdman on.’. But still, it took him so long to find anything, you know?

Do you think you’d skate differently if you had a shoe sponsor?

I will tell you this: going from Deklines to Nikes, especially with the stuff that I skate, I could immediately tell that they had better materials and were made better. I was able to skate better in that way, for sure, when I was actually skating good shoes. 

My insoles are the thing that saves me, dude. That’s the game changer right there. Without the insoles, I don’t care what shoe it is, it’s not going to feel good when you’re jumping down a 20 stair. Those Footprint insoles are the things that save my life.

Footprint insoles are saving this mans life. Wallie backside 180 grab.

Footprint insoles are saving this mans life. Wallie backside 180 grab.

It seems fucking hard out there.

Yeah, it’s hard for sure. I haven’t been too stressed. I just skate, and keep on doing that, and hopefully maybe one day something will come, but for now I’m not too stressed.